Glossary of Terms


A place where bees are kept; a collection of beehives; a yard where bees are kept; otherwise known as a “bee yard.”

beard or bearding

A term referring to a honey bee behavior. Bearding is when bees accumulate at the front of the hive, in a beard-like shape. Bees do this to make room inside the hive for added ventilation on a hot and humid day.

bee brood or brood

In beekeeping, bee brood or brood refers to the eggs, larvae and pupae of honey bees. The brood of Western honey bees develops within a bee hive.

Brood cycle

The “brood cycle” of bee brood is generally considered 3 weeks (21 days). That’s the approximate number of days for a worker bee to develop, from the egg being laid to emerging from their cell. After emerging they are no longer considered brood, but adults, who then go through different phases and duties as they mature.


The action or process of settling among and establishing control over the Indigenous people of an area.

Colony Collapse Disorder

An abnormal phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear, leaving behind a queen, plenty of food, and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees. While such disappearances have occurred sporadically throughout the history of apiculture, and have been known by various names (including disappearing disease, spring dwindle, May disease, autumn collapse, and fall dwindle disease), the syndrome was renamed colony collapse disorder in late 2006 in conjunction with a drastic rise in reports of disappearances of western honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies in North America. Beekeepers in most European countries have observed a similar phenomenon since 1998, especially in Southern and Western Europe; the Northern Ireland Assembly received reports of a decline greater than 50%. The phenomenon became more global when it affected some Asian and African countries as well.


A hive contracts, or stops laying eggs and drawing wax, when the nectar flow stops, and the bio region is in a dearth of nectar. Contraction in a hive can also happen in response to pending winter.


Part of the honey bee removal process of cutting comb.


In honey bee terminology, a dearth is a shortage of nectar-producing flowers.

Formic acid

Formic acid is a naturally occurring acid. Formic acid is used in beekeeping as a treatment for the Varroa destructor virus, typically applied using strips of acid installed inside of the hive.


A fractal is a shape made of parts similar to the whole in some way; Fractals are not limited to geometric patterns, but can also describe processes in time.


A broad-spectrum systemic herbicide and crop desiccant. It is used to kill weeds, especially annual broadleaf weeds and grasses that compete with crops.


Grafting is the most common method of queen rearing and is used worldwide. It involves the transfer of larvae that were intended to be workers into queen cell cups.

Hopkins method

The removal of a frame with eggs or newly hatched larvae from a selected breeder queen. This frame is then given to a queenless cell builder colony. But it is not hung in the normal way; it is placed in a horizontal position above the brood nest.

Industrial Agricultural Complex

A close-knit relationship between agriculture, business and the government; describes how food gets manufactured and delivered from the farm to fork; A set of industries (enterprises) whose activities are directly or indirectly aimed at the production of food or other products produced from agricultural raw materials; A combination of several sectors of the economy aimed at the production and processing of agricultural raw materials and obtaining products from it, brought to the end consumer.

Langstroth hive

A Langstroth hive is any vertically modular beehive that has the key features of vertically hung frames, a bottom board with entrance for the bees, boxes containing frames for brood and honey (the lowest box for the queen to lay eggs, and boxes above where honey may be stored) and an inner cover and top cap to provide weather protection. In a Langstroth hive, the bees build honeycomb into frames, which can be moved with ease. The frames are designed to prevent bees from attaching honeycombs where they would either connect adjacent frames, or connect frames to the walls of the hive.

Miller method

Shaped comb or foundation is placed in the middle of a brood box of a selected colony. The queen lays in it and the bees extend the bottom and fill the gaps, allowing the queen to lay in the extensions a few days later. When the eggs start to hatch, it is removed from the colony, the bees removed and the comb is cut back to where the larvae are 24 – 36 hours old, IE 4 – 4 ½ days from the egg being laid. The comb is then placed in a cell raising colony and the bees build Q/Cs on the exposed edge.


Small fauna or animals IE insects, microscopic animals.


A systemic agricultural insecticide resembling nicotine that are toxic to bees.

Nuc(s) or (nucleus) colonies

A nucleus colony, or nuc, is essentially a smaller hive, sometimes in a smaller box, consisting of bees in all stages of development, as well as food, a laying queen, and enough workers to cover from three to five combs.

nurse bees

Worker bees begin their lives as nurse bees. They spend the first week after they emerge from their cells caring for and cleaning up after the queen, feeding the larvae and making honey.

Oxalic acid

An organic compound that occurs naturally in many foods used by beekeepers as a miticide against the parasitic varroa mite.


(Of an insect, plant, etc.) live through the winter.


A social system in which men hold primary power and predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authoritysocial privilege and control of property. Some patriarchal societies are also patrilineal, meaning that property and title are inherited by the male lineage.

Patriarchy is associated with a set of ideas, a patriarchal ideology that acts to explain and justify this dominance and attributes it to inherent natural differences between men and women.

primitive accumulation

The process by which pre-capitalist modes of production, such as feudalism and chattel slavery, are transformed into the capitalist mode of production.

settler culture

Settler colonialism is a form of colonialism which seeks to replace the original population of the colonized territory with a new society of settlers. As with all forms of colonialism, it is based on exogenous domination, typically organized or supported by an imperial authority. Settler colonialism is enacted by a variety of means ranging from violent depopulation of the previous inhabitants, to more subtle, legal means such as assimilation or recognition of indigenous identity within a colonial framework.

small-scale beekeeping

A practice of reclaiming beekeeping as a practice that supports honey bees, rather than uses them as a tool in pollination. Beekeepers are reclaiming the “means of production” by raising bees who can survive in their bio-regions, sharing honey bees with their community and rescuing and relocating wild hives through live bee removal services.


A bee smoker (usually called simply a smoker) is a device used in beekeeping to calm honey bees. It is designed to generate smoke from the smouldering of various fuels.

survivor stock

The survivor stock is comprised of bees that successfully overwintered in the presence of Varroa mites with no chemical treatments. If the offspring of these bees is also able to survive in the presence of mites, breeders will be on their way to producing a Varroa-resistant strain. Survivor stock are bred for the genetic trait “longevity.”


Swarming is a honey bee colony’s natural means of reproduction. In the process of swarming, a single colony splits into two or more distinct colonies.

Swarming is mainly a spring phenomenon, usually within a two- or three-week period depending on the locale, but occasional swarms can happen throughout the producing season. Secondary afterswarms, or cast swarms may happen. Cast swarms are usually smaller and are accompanied by a virgin queen. Sometimes a beehive will swarm in succession until it is almost totally depleted of workers.


Involving interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association; denoting a mutually beneficial relationship between different people or groups.


Change in form, nature, or substance.


The application of any acid, chemical or pesticide to the inside of a honey bee colony to manage for disease control.

Varroa destructor / varroa mite

Varroa destructor (Varroa mite) is an external parasitic mite that attacks and feeds on the honey bees Apis cerana and Apis mellifera. The disease caused by the mites is called varroosis. The Varroa mite can only reproduce in a honey bee colony.

Warre hive

A Warre hive is a vertical top bar hive that uses bars instead of frames, usually with a wooden wedge or guide on the bars from which the bees build their own comb, just like they do in nature.

white supremacy

The belief that white people are superior to those of all other races, especially the black race, and should therefore dominate society. In the United States, white supremacy is reinforced by systemic, cultural and institutional norms, and this is referred to as “white supremacy culture.” For more information on white supremacy culture, go check out these great resources at Showing Up for Racial Justice.


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Radicalize the Hive by Angela Roell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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